The Asah Creative {1 of 2}

The Asah Creative {1 of 2}

Each morning before work my father read his Bible in the living room while he pulled up his socks and laced his shoes. I waited in the hallway for him to close the book and I’d go to him and sit on his knee. When my father bought a Bible for me, and with it a purple devotional, I joined him in the living room, reading and bowing my head in silent prayer.

When my friends, burdened, come to me and say they no longer believe in God, I tell them I love them nonetheless and understand their plight; that the faith of their parents no longer resonates with their hearts. The words used to describe my faith, the ones I read in old translations and from bright colored devotionals, are clichés and I no longer know what they mean. I must find new words and new language. The truth is I’m just as lost on my own, wandering and doubting, questioning and desiring clarity. But I refuse to return to the old images and metaphors, which fit loose like a dusty, moth-eaten suit in my father’s closet.

I’m crazy, you know, searching for this something. We’re all kooks when we actually say, “I need something more.”

My father in the living room, with his Bible in his hand, might look up at me and say, “Is this not enough?”

While my friends say, “I don’t want anything at all.”

I found this something more, or this something more found me, in stories and poetry. That is why I’ve subscribed to a Theopoetic sort of belief. That I can find God in poetry and literature. If not God then God’s back, like Moses on Mt. Sinai, “Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back…” A Hebrew euphemism for where one used to be. The leftover presence–the afterimage–of his truth and glory.

When I sit down to write my own poems and stories and I face the blank page, my empty mind begins with Hebrew, “Bereshit bara Elohim…” “In the beginning God created…” A friend pointed out to me that this word for ‘created’ in Hebrew is ‘bara’, and is always of divine making and holy creativity, like that of God’s creation. The Hebrew ‘asah’ also means making or doing or acting, but it’s what men and women make and do. “They worship the work (asah) of their hands, that which their fingers have made (asah),” (Isaiah 2:8). Asah is earthly creation contrasted with God’s sacred forming, “Behold I create (bara) new heavens and a new earth,” (65:17). However, even God, who bara-creates the divine, also partakes in the work of earthly material, “God made (asah) the beasts of the earth after their kind…” (Genesis 1:25).

Poetry is a collision of asah and bara. A fusion of earth and heaven. People and God. Human and Divine.

Creatives must begin here, with asah-words. Asah is plowing the land full of clay and rocks for the sacred, burgeoning bara-bud.

As Madeleine L’Engle observes, “We were made to be co-creators with our maker.” Thus we are invited to join in God’s bara, in new creations and new language. I like the freedom and the joy of this possibility. The room to roam. The taste of the air.

Now when I wake up, before I go to work–while I pull up my socks and tie my shoes in the living room–I open my Bible and pray. Waiting, in my lap is a chapbook or a novel, while asah-bara images and words form in my mind.

I’m back in my living room, looking across at my Father. I answer him, “It is enough. It’s more than enough.”



Ross Gale is a writer and editor from Oregon. His work is featured in Burnside Writers Collective, Relief Journal, Archipelago, and he contributes to He earned his Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Seattle Pacific University. He blogs at where he’s editing the “Bereshit Bara Creativity Series” which asks 13 Creatives to wrestle with questions about what gives them the courage to create.

13 Responses to “The Asah Creative {1 of 2}”

  1. Lizzie says:

    Beautiful. It is enough – even when I have to remind myself of this most days – it is enough.

  2. dave says:

    glad you liked it! be sure to check out Ross’s blog for more great stuff!

  3. Nice text and quote, I shall explore the site. Some words came today, old ones, but I realised they need a new body around them, maybe later today but here they are anyway: ‘letting go of the diamond sky whilst the ground is eroding’. Heaven and earth and being.

  4. I love what is written here. Very affirming, as I am always finding God’s Truth in literature…. and as I long to write in a way which is infused with His creative power.

  5. J Ibanez says:

    Fantastic! I relate to the loss of flavor that sometimes various expressions of faith can experience and the drive to rediscover it anew through various endeavors (art for creatives like us, I’m sure others have alternate venues as well).

  6. David says:

    “The room to roam. The taste of the air.”

    Good words here, Ross. Thanks for the gift.

  7. What a beautiful reminder that we are in the Far Country. Thanks for that, Ross.

  8. Nathan says:

    Wow. Wonderful insights… Your thoughts on God’s creativity remind me of a 70 yr old nun who encouraged me to look for the ways God is creating the universe. As in, how is God’s creative power unfolding in my life today and in this universe-in-motion. She leant me this book which I would recommend:

    Ross would you mind if I repost your piece in our camp blog ( Will include credit and link to this page of course.

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